Previous month:
September 2011
Next month:
November 2011

Artificial Intelligence Pioneer John McCarthy Dies at 84

by Stan Schroeder

John McCarthy, the inventor of programming language Lisp and the man who coined the term “artificial intelligence,” has died at the age of 84.

Born in 1927, McCarthy had a PhD in mathematics and was a long-standing professor at Stanford University. He was the first to use the term “artificial intelligence” at a conference at Dartmouth College in 1956 and is one of the founders of the field of A.I. research.

His programming language, Lisp, together with its dialects, is often the language of choice for artificial intelligence applications.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Institutions need to collaborate to turn research into jobs, report says

By Karen Herzog of the Journal Sentinel

Institutions must work together to transfer technologies from academic research laboratories to those who will use them to create businesses and jobs, and ultimately boost southeast Wisconsin's economy, says a report released Monday by the Public Policy Forum.

"It is clear that the region's academic research institutions have yet to capture the full economic development potential of their research," says the report by the nonpartisan, nonprofit group. "By collaborating more closely to identify local discoveries that fill gaps in the global market, and by working together to help create or grow local players in that market, academic leaders could take better advantage of their rapidly emerging research prowess."

Academic researchers seeking to bring new technologies to market may or may not get assistance from their institution, if the institution doesn't have a strong entrepreneurial climate, the report says. The greatest opportunity for economic impact comes from start-ups and spin-outs, which tend to be local, it says.

"There is consensus that the quality of the research is high, but that there is more potential for economic impact in these discoveries than is currently realized," the report concludes. "The regional data, as compared to national averages, seem to bear this out."

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Vatican signs deal to collaborate on adult stem cell research

The unusual agreement with NeoStem allows the church, which opposes embryonic stem cell use, to be seen as taking a constructive role in one of the most promising areas of medical research.

By Mitchell Landsberg,

Los Angeles Times October 20, 2011

As chairman and chief executive of her own company, Dr. Robin Smith is a significant player in the world of biopharmaceutical products and research. Self-confident, poised and well traveled, she is used to dealing with movers and shakers.

But when she negotiated an agreement with her company's latest business partner, she didn't deal directly with the top executive.

He is, after all, the pope.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Legislation to fund biotech firms introduced

Bill would invest bioscience payroll taxes in growth

By Kathleen Gallagher and Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

With a venture capital plan still being debated, two Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would use payroll taxes from biosciences firms to fund Wisconsin companies in industries ranging from drug development to soybean processing.

The Next Generation Jobs Reserve bill would divert payroll tax revenue from jobs added by bioscience companies into a fund that would provide grants, loans and direct investments to selected companies in the industry.

"If this bill does what we think it will do, you'll have legislators champing at the bit to do it for information technology, 3-D printing - whatever the next industry cluster is in Wisconsin," said Scott Kelly, chief of staff for Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), one of the bill's sponsors.

The Assembly sponsor is Rep. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green). Reps. Louis Molepske Jr. (D-Stevens Point) and Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) also signed onto the bill.

If the measure had been passed a year ago, the fund would be receiving its first injection of cash, about $15 million, based on the state's bioscience job growth of about 3%, said Bryan Renk, executive director of BioForward, the trade organization for Wisconsin's bioscience industry. BioForward worked with legislators to develop the bill and will support it, Renk said. Money for the bioscience fund would be capped at $50 million a year, or $500 million in total.

Full story.

 

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

IMAGING BIOMETRICS AND THE MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN AWARDED NIH GRANT

Milwaukee, WI – Imaging Biometrics, LLC (IB) and investigators at The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee have been awarded a Phase I STTR grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop much-needed magnetic resonance (MR) image analysis tools for reliable and automated determination of brain tumor burden. The result of this combined effort will be the integration of key technologies into an easy-to-use application which may significantly enhance accuracy in evaluating a tumor’s response to various treatment therapies.

“Currently, radiologists must make time-consuming manipulations using conventional tools. Our goal is to provide clinician with an automated application that makes it easier for them to make the best decisions and perform more precise treatment planning for their patients.” said Timothy Dondlinger, Chief Operating Officer at IB.

Advances in treatment therapies, specifically those that target tumor vessels, are making the tracking of tumor progression increasingly challenging. “The ability for clinicians to distinguish recurrent tumor from radiation necrosis from pseudo-progression is critical because those decisions ultimately dictate the treatment course for patients,” added Dondlinger. “Providing this information quickly, accurately, and non-invasively is what we plan to achieve”.

Figure 1: One key technology that will be integrated is IB’s “delta T1” method, shown as the center image. It provides much greater tumor delineation than simple difference maps. This is due to the incorporation of IB's exclusively-licensed standardization technology.

IB Neuro

Continue reading "IMAGING BIOMETRICS AND THE MEDICAL COLLEGE OF WISCONSIN AWARDED NIH GRANT" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

EU bans patents of stem cells if embryo destroyed

AFP - Europe's top court on Tuesday banned researchers from patenting any process to extract stem cells when it leads to the destruction of a human embryo.

In a ruling that could affect medical research, the EU Court of Justice court said the use of human embryos "for therapeutic or diagnostic purposes which are applied to the human embryo and are useful to it is patentable."

"But their use for purposes of scientific research is not patentable," the court ruled.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Tech trend brings growth for start-up

By Guy Boulton of the Journal Sentinel

When Jim Prekop joined TeraMedica Healthcare Technology as president and CEO in 2005, the Wauwatosa company's investors asked him first to determine whether closing the start-up would be the best course.

The company opted to push ahead, and its investors now may be rewarded for their patience as the market recognizes the need for TeraMedica's software.

TeraMedica sells software for managing the millions of diagnostic images stored throughout health care systems.

The size and number of those images - digital X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, mammograms, ultrasounds - have grown exponentially with advances in technology.

They typically are stored on different systems in various departments and locations throughout a health care system. Yet they need to be accessible through the electronic health records now taking hold throughout health care.

TeraMedica's software enables those images to be stored and managed - more efficiently and for less money - from one central repository. That repository, in turn, can be linked to an electronic health record.

The company, founded in 2001, knew that image storage would become a headache at some point for health systems. But it acknowledges that it was a bit ahead of the market.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Carbon nanotube muscles generate giant twist for novel motors

Twist per muscle length is over a thousand times higher than for previous artificial muscles and the muscle diameter is ten times smaller than a human hair.

New artificial muscles that twist like the trunk of an elephant, but provide a thousand times higher rotation per length, were announced on Oct. 13 for a publication in Science magazine by a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas, The University of Wollongong in Australia, The University of British Columbia in Canada, and Hanyang University in Korea.

These muscles, based on carbon nanotubes yarns, accelerate a 2000 times heavier paddle up to 590 revolutions per minute in 1.2 seconds, and then reverse this rotation when the applied voltage is changed. The demonstrated rotation of 250 per millimeter of muscle length is over a thousand times that of previous artificial muscles, which are based on ferroelectrics, shape memory alloys, or conducting organic polymers. The output power per yarn weight is comparable to that for large electric motors, and the weight-normalized performance of these conventional electric motors severely degrades when they are downsized to millimeter scale.

These muscles exploit strong, tough, highly flexible yarns of carbon nanotubes, which consist of nanoscale cylinders of carbon that are ten thousand times smaller in diameter than a human hair. Important for success, these nanotubes are spun into helical yarns, which means that they have left and right handed versions (like our hands), depending upon the direction of rotation during twisting the nanotubes to make yarn. Rotation is torsional, meaning that twist occurs in one direction until a limiting rotation results, and then rotation can be reversed by changing the applied voltage. Left and right hand yarns rotate in opposite directions when electrically charged, but in both cases the effect of charging is to partially untwist the yarn.

Unlike conventional motors, whose complexity makes them difficult to miniaturize, the torsional carbon nanotube muscles are simple to inexpensively construct in either very long or millimeter lengths. The nanotube torsional motors consist of a yarn electrode and a counter-electrode, which are immersed in an ionically conducting liquid. A low voltage battery can serve as the power source, which enables electrochemical charge and discharge of the yarn to provide torsional rotation in opposite directions. In the simplest case, the researchers attach a paddle to the nanotube yarn, which enables torsional rotation to do useful work – like mixing liquids on "micro-fluidic chips" used for chemical analysis and sensing.

The mechanism of torsional rotation is remarkable. Charging the nanotube yarns is like charging a supercapacitor - ions migrate into the yarns to electrostatically balance the electronic charge electrically injected onto the nanotubes. Although the yarns are porous, this influx of ions causes the yarn to increase volume, shrink in length by up to a percent, and torsionally rotate. This surprising shrinkage in yarn length as its volume increases is explained by the yarn's helical structure, which is similar in structure to finger cuff toys that trap a child's fingers when elongated, but frees them when shortened.

Nature has used torsional rotation based on helically wound muscles for hundreds of millions of years, and exploits this action for such tasks as twisting the trunks of elephants and octopus limbs. In these natural appendages, helically wound muscle fibers cause rotation by contracting against an essentially incompressible, bone-less core. On the other hand, the helically wound carbon nanotubes in the nanotube yarns are undergoing little change in length, but are instead causing the volume of liquid electrolyte within the porous yarn to increase during electrochemical charging, so that torsional rotation occurs.

The combination of mechanical simplicity, giant torsional rotations, high rotation rates, and micron-size yarn diameters are attractive for applications, such as microfluidic pumps, valve drives, and mixers. In a fluidic mixer demonstrated by the researchers, a 15 micron diameter yarn rotated a 200 times larger radius and 80 times heavier paddle in flowing liquids at up to one rotation per second.

"The discovery, characterization, and understanding of these high performance torsional motors shows the power of international collaborations", said Ray H. Baughman, a corresponding author of the author of the Science article and Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and director of The University of Texas at Dallas Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. "Researchers from four universities in three different continents that were born in eight different countries made critically important contributions."

Continue reading "Carbon nanotube muscles generate giant twist for novel motors" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Precision with Stem Cells a Step Forward for Treating M.S., Other Diseases

Scientists have improved upon their own previous world-best efforts to pluck out just the right stem cells to address the brain problem at the core of multiple sclerosis and a large number of rare, fatal children’s diseases.

Details of how scientists isolated and directed stem cells from the human brain to become oligodendrocytes – the type of brain cell that makes myelin, a crucial fatty material that coats neurons and allows them to signal effectively – were published online and in the October issue of Nature Biotechnology by scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center and the University at Buffalo.

Full story.

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.

Stem cells from cord blood could help repair damaged heart muscle

At least 20 million people survive heart attacks and strokes every year, according to World Health Organisation estimates, but many have poor life expectancy and require continual costly clinical care. The use of patient's own stem cells may repair heart attacks, although their benefit may be limited due to scarce availability and ageing. The researchers have found heart muscle-like cells grown using stem cells from human umbilical cord blood could help repair heart muscle cells damaged by a heart attack.

The study, led by Professor Raimondo Ascione, Chair of Cardiac Surgery & Translational Research in the School of Clinical Sciences at the University of Bristol, is published online in Stem Cell Reviews & Reports.

The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), found that it is possible to expand up to seven-fold, in vitro, rare stem cells (called CD133+) from human cord blood and then grow them into cardiac muscle cells.

The findings could have major implications on future treatment following a heart attack given that cells obtained from adults following a heart attack may be less functional due to ageing and risk factors.

Professor Ascione said: "We believe our study represents a significant advancement and overcomes the technical hurdle of deriving cardiac muscle-type cells from human cord blood. The method we have found has the attributes of simplicity and consistency. This will permit more robust manipulation of these cells towards better cell homing and cardiac repair in patients with myocardial infarction.

"Our research suggests that in the future stem cells derived from cord blood bank facilities might be used for repair after a heart attack."

The study focused on a rare type of stem cells, called CD133+, which is also present in adult bone marrow. There is also strong experimental evidence these cells derived from bone marrow may help with the regeneration of damaged heart muscle.

Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Regenerative medicine research in the lab, alongside studies of patients, is absolutely crucial. Right now, the damage to the heart caused by heart attack cannot be reversed. Through research like this across the UK, we hope to bring our vision of mending broken hearts to reality.

"There has been interest for some time in the potential use of blood from the umbilical cord as a source of stem cells for therapy in a variety of diseases. This study has shown for the first time that it's possible to turn cord blood stem cells into cells that look like heart muscle, in the lab. The results are encouraging, but there are still lots of questions to answer before we'll know whether these cells can be used successfully for heart repair in patients."

In 2007, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) awarded Professor Ascione, over £200,000 for the world's first clinical trial, TransACT, to test whether bone marrow derived CD133+ stem cells can repair heart muscle cells damaged by a heart attack. Recently, funding for the trial has been extended to 2013.

The double blind placebo-controlled trial has successfully recruited 50 per cent of its patients with no safety concerns. Under Professor Ascione's leadership, 31 out of 60 patients, who have suffered a major heart attack, have been injected to date at the Bristol Heart Institute with stem cells from their own bone marrow or a placebo into their damaged hearts during routine coronary bypass surgery.

Continue reading "Stem cells from cord blood could help repair damaged heart muscle" »

Please visit our sponsor Gehrke & Associates, SC to learn more about how to enhance and defend your intellectual property.  Thank you.